Sex, Career and Family: Including an International Review of Women's Roles

By Michael P. Fogarty; Rhona Rapoport et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter IX
The Reconciliation of Work and Family Life: The Dual-Career Family

Given the fact that women are working more in addition to (rather than instead of) getting married and having a family, the issue of reconciling work and family life becomes increasingly acute. Participation by women in responsible jobs in contemporary society requires an organization of effort, and commitment to work that can be characterized as a 'career-orientation', rather than an orientation that allows for working without expectations of development and/or advancement. The probability of a career-orientation as distinct from other orientations to work and to family life is higher for a population of graduate women than for one that is randomly selected, although even here, as already indicated, there is a range of orientations among both women and men. In addition, it is expected that most of the patterns and processes that have been found for graduate women hold as well for a wide range of highly qualified women as they attempt to reconcile work and family life.

Among the different types of families, there is one which is characterized by both the woman and the man having a high degree of commitment and aspiration in the world of work: both seek to exercise their competences as fully as possible in their occupations and to perform highly productive or responsible jobs. Such a family we term the 'dual-career family', in contrast to the conventional pattern where the husband is the breadwinner and the wife is the mother-housewife.

The concept of the dual-career family does not necessarily require that both members work full-time. Depending on their situation and the nature of their occupations, the amount of paid work put in at any given time may vary. The crucial element in distinguishing the dual-career family from other forms of family structure is the high commitment of both husband and wife to work on an egalitarian

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